Katie Himics reflects on her experience as a museum educator at the Newark Museum, the birthplace of modern museum education theory.
What Great Minds Can Do: Charlotte Nichols, Ph.D.
"It has been very exciting to introduce students to the cultural legacy and museums of Italy during the seminars abroad. I love being on-site with students anywhere."
Charlotte Nichols, Ph.D., M.A. in Museum Professions Associate Professor
To say that Dr. Charlotte Nichols is passionate about Italian Renaissance art would be like calling Leonardo da Vinci a pretty good artist — it’s a complete understatement. For decades, Nichols has researched some of the world’s most beautiful works, while earning numerous fellowships for her efforts. But the chance to contribute to the field in this way is only part of the fun for her.
As an affiliated faculty member of the M.A. in Museum Professions program within the College of Communication and the Arts, Nichols also enjoys getting to impart her knowledge onto countless aspiring museum professionals. By doing so, she ensures that future generations are instilled with an appreciation for the likes of Michelangelo and Raphael. Plus, she finds it is simply nice to engage her students with masterpieces up-close.
“It has been very exciting to introduce students to the cultural legacy and museums of Italy during the seminars abroad,” Nichols said. “I love being on-site with students anywhere.”
Students in the Museum Professions program indeed have plenty of opportunities to explore the great works in-person with their professors through the program’s seminar abroad opportunities. These seminars abroad, which offer “behind-the-scenes” tours of some of the world’s most famous museums, have seen students visit such culturally rich cities as Paris, Rome, and Florence. And when classes resume, the exposure to art continues through frequent trips to institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art. After all, New York City is only 14 miles from campus, which Nichols said makes Seton Hall an “ideal” location compared to other universities.
Visiting museums is far from the only way students learn, though. Nichols pointed out that the small class sizes found in the Museum Professions program give those enrolled the chance to meaningfully engage with their professors, who often work in museums themselves. As a result, the faculty can apply their professional experiences to their teaching, giving their students real-world insight.
On top of that, Nichols said the program’s four specialized tracks — Museum Education, Museum Management, Museum Registration, and Exhibition Development — provide students with a unique educational experience.
“It gives them the opportunity to develop a fundamental understanding of an essential component of museum operations,” Nichols said, referring to the fact that students take courses specifically dedicated to whichever track in which they chose to immerse themselves. “(That is) very attractive to potential employers.”
Of course, students who have much experience on their resumes are also highly sought after for jobs, which is partly why Nichols counts the requirement that students must obtain an internship as another asset of the Museum Professions program. She stressed that an internship functions as a “learning laboratory” through which participants can put what they’ve learned in their classes to use in the real world. They can network with professionals in their chosen field, as well.
As if all that were not enough to entice prospective students, Nichols encouraged anyone interested in joining the Museum Professions program to sit in on a few classes, so they can see if it is right for them. They might just find themselves as passionate about the field as Nichols is.
This profile was written by Sean Quinn, a Graduate Assistant for Graduate Studies within the College of Communication and the Arts and an M.A. in Public Relations student.
- Curatorial Fellowship, The Frick Collection
- Florence Waterbury Fellowship, Institute of Fine Arts
- Kress Triangulation Fellowship, American Academy in Rome
- Participant, National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar